Public Employee Press
city contract offer
FACING CITY NEGOTIATORS Jan. 16 are (from right) DC 37 Pres. Veronica
Montgomery-Costa, Exec. Director Lillian Roberts, Negotiations Director
Dennis Sullivan and SSEU Local 371 Pres. Charles Ensley.
By GREGORY N. HEIRES
In the latest bargaining session on Jan. 16, DC 37 rejected the citys
initial wage offer. The proposal also stressed the demand management made
earlier for a mandatory 40-hour workweek for all employees covered by
the economic agreement.
Since it does not provide any retroactive pay, the wage offer would have
amounted to a salary freeze of at least a year and a half for more than
100,000 municipal workers. The previous contract expired on June 30, 2002.
DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts called the offer an insult to
members, especially after Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg praised the municipal
labor force the previous day in a budget address.
We have been busting our humps to make the city work, said
Ms. Roberts, noting that the city is down 14,000 positions from a year
Productivity is up
DC 37 members have raised their productivity as they get the work done
with less staff. Since their last wage increase, they have been hit with
sharp increases in rent, transit fares, taxes and tuition.
Upon her re-election by the DC 37 Delegates Council on Jan. 27, Ms. Roberts
called for renewed intense negotiations to reach an economic agreement.
City Labor Relations Commissioner James F. Hanley presented the 2-year
proposal a wage increase without retroactivity, the 40-hour workweek
and more as part of what he called a comprehensive package. The
proposal also included some of the original demands that the city presented
to the union in February 2003:
- hiring new workers at 90 percent
of normal starting pay
- cutting the terminal leave credit
for outgoing workers from one days pay for every two accumulated
sick days to a days pay for every three sick days
- abolishing summer hours and restrictions
- establishing a new pension tier,
- eliminating reverse out-of-title
DC 37 stepped up its pressure for
a wage offer after municipal unions and the city reached a major accord
on health and other benefits in December (see page 10).
Members of the DC 37 Negotiating Committee reacted coolly to the wage
offer partly because of the lingering bitterness over the 1995-2000 economic
agreement, which included a two-year wage freeze.
During contract talks, the union and city traditionally agree not to disclose
the details of wage offers and counteroffers, partly to avoid the media
spotlight and keep politics from interfering with negotiations.
Committee members expressed outrage over the 40-hour workweek proposal,
which would increase the workday of many members by as much as 14 percent.
Three-quarters of DC 37 members work 35 hours a week.
Responding to the unions rejection of the city proposal, Mr. Hanley
said, We dont have the money. There is no money in this budget.
We are so far apart here that perhaps we should all think about invoking
third party intervention at this point.
Dennis Sullivan, the unions director of research and negotiations,
countered, We have had profound differences before and have been
able to close.
Mr. Sullivan noted that in his January fiscal address, Mr. Bloomberg said
his proposed budget represents a public policy decision to take care of
people. The city should also regard the contract as an opportunity to
improve the economic livelihood of its workforce, Mr. Sullivan said.